Delaware's Whale of a Sale returns as thrifty shoppers rejoice

Ira Porter
The News Journal

Cindy Hall is the self-proclaimed "Yard Sale Queen," but she might have earned the title if it was ever up for votes.

Name something, she has it, and most likely the North Wilmington resident got it from a yard sale. She took a treadmill home for free one Saturday afternoon after she, her mother and sister traveled to several yard sales and kept seeing them among available items.

"At first my mom and sister were like, 'No. No. Don't get any treadmills,'" said Hall, 52.

Then they spotted a working machine in the driveway of a sale.

"I asked how much it was and the lady said it was five bucks," Hall joked. "Then next she said she would give it to me for free because she wanted her garage back."

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Hall plans to be one of the thousands of people expected to attend Whale of a Sale, dubbed the state's largest garage sale, which will return to Wilmington on Saturday, Nov. 9. The event has been a tradition for the Junior League of Wilmington since 1980.

It's so successful that starting this year, the Junior League will have the sale annually, instead of skipping a year as it has for decades. 

The 2019 event will offer gently used items from JLW members, designer items, new clothing, formal wear and bridal gowns, furniture, children's clothing, housewares, books and sporting goods. It is a partnership between JLW and local businesses, which contribute items to the sale. Some are gently used. Some are not.

Proceeds from the sale will fund community planning for the organization, annual leadership summits and an initiative dubbed "Stand Up. Period." which focuses on making sure all girls and women have access to products for their periods. Organizers said their goal for the fundraiser to bring in $35,000, which it has in years past.

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All about the shopping

The earliest Hall ever got to Whale of a Sale was 6:30 a.m. Other people had beaten her there, so she had to wait in line.

"They get out there pretty early," she said. "When I got there the line was wrapped around the corner."

Shoppers stream through the doors at the opening of the Junior League of Wilmington's "Whale of a Sale" in the warehouse space at the Southgate Industrial Park, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011.

She has gone many other times, and usually arrives between 7:30 and 8 a.m., knowing that she will have to wait to get inside to shop.

One year she couldn't get to the sale until it was almost time to close. That ended up being a blessing.

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"They had all this stuff sitting there and they made an announcement," she said. "They told everyone to take a bag and fill it up for $5 bucks. I left there with six 10-speed bikes tied to a red SUV," she laughed.

Lori Giughlo plans to go to Whale of a Sale. It will be another stop in her weekly thrift store adventures that take her all over New Castle County, Wilmington, Middletown and Bear. She goes wherever thrift shopping is best.

"Sometimes it's hit or miss," Giughlo said.

Her eye is practiced and her tastes are particular. She can spot a perfect pair of slim fit jeans for her 7-year-old son. She's snagged vintage furniture, vases, X-box games and other knickknacks. Although she's only about 5 feet, if something's high up on a shelf, she'll reach for it.

"I used to be able to shop for my daughter, but she's at the point where she doesn't like what I pick for her. She has to be with me when I shop for her," Giughlo, who lives in St. Georges.

Sheila Cox, of Landenberg, Pa.,  a volunteer for Whale of a Sale, sorts through hundreds of toys in preparation for the sale in October 2006.

Once or twice a week she shops for at least an hour or two after she drops her son off at school. Recently she stopped at the Fox Run Shopping Center in Bear, where the store was having its weekly $2 dollar Tuesday special. Kids clothes were only $1 per item.

She grabbed a few books and shirts for her son and then searched through housewares and women's clothes.

"It's just like a treasure hunt," said Giughlo, who dresses comfortably to shop.

"It's to the point where even we go on a family road trip and I see a Goodwill I will say, 'Goodwill! Goodwill! We have to stop,'" she said, laughing.

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Her husband doesn't mind.

"It saves him money," Giughlo said.

She shops for him, too. She once found a slightly used pair of tennis rackets with bags for $3. Her best buy most recently was a vintage elementary school style wooden and metal desk with a lift top for $10 for her children.

Clothes to be sold for the Whale of a Sale near New Castle in November 2016.

"They didn't even have it on the floor yet, but I saw it. I saw it and asked if they were bringing it out. They were going to charge 20 for it, but they were having a sale," she said.

She recently grabbed a Nerf gun for her son, and looked up the value online. It would have been $30 if she bought it new. She got it for $3.

Robin Veller, the manager of the Fox Run Goodwill store, says all it takes is one good shopping experience and many shoppers are hooked by the bargains they can find at thrift shops.

"We have people who come for the first time, and then after that they come back every day," Veller said.

IF YOU GO

What: Whale of a Sale

When: Nov. 9, 2019 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: 3030 Bowers Street, Wilmington, DE 19802

Contact: www.jlwilmington.com to learn more or call 302-652-544.

Contact Ira Porter at 302-324-2581 or iporter@delawareonline.com.